Thing 14: Online Productivity Tools

While it may seem that the Internet is populated by people with endless time on their hands who are out to torpedo our productivity, there really are Web-based applications that can improve productivity--or at least make some things easier.

These applications fall into a variety of categories including online office tools like spreadsheets and word processing, calendars, start pages, project management tools, to-do lists, personal organizers, sticky notes, online collaboration tools, and much, much more. A search on “online productivity tools” turns up many lists of these tools.

We have already introduced you to some productivity tools—RSS aggregators like Bloglines do save time as you keep up with the news and information you need. is a tool that makes bookmarking more efficient.

In this Thing, we have selected several productivity tools for you to try. Here are some tools we think have use in libraries and media centers, as well as at home.

1. Having a customized home—or “start” page—that lets you collect and organize information of importance to you all on one page can be a productivity help. iGoogle, PageFlakes, and My Yahoo! are three places to start. Each lets you choose headlines, weather reports, links to your email and RSS feeds, and dozens of other widgets (or gadgets, in Google) to manage information—or your life. Note that many widgets require a download. So, look at the intro pages for all three of these and choose one to create a customized start page. Add features, delete features, re-arrange the features on your new homepage. Each site will have widgets/gadgets to add and you can find many, many more on the Web.

Here's a Countdown widget.
Now you can calculate how much time you have to complete 23 Things @ NEFLIN!

2. Calendar: These calendars all offer similar features—add events, get reminders, search, repeat events, coding, etc. and of course, the hallmark of Web 2.0, the ability to share your calendar online. Google and Yahoo! Calendars integrate with their other services and features. Choose a calendar from this article and try it out.

3. Just about everyone makes lists. Try one of these online list tools to manage your activities. Ta da list or Remember the Milk

4. Some tools roll multiple features—calendars, lists, reminders, etc--into one service. Take a look at Backpack features.

But wait, there’s more! Here are some other tools you can explore on your own:

Online Calendars
30 Boxes

Sticky Notes (requires download)

PDF Converters
CutePDF (requires download)
Zamzar - This program will covert one file type to another. Especially handy in libraries that may not be able to open a student or patron file because it doesn’t have the right software.

Really interested in improving your productivity? Here are some lists of tools to explore. Although searching these lists and trying the tools might drain your productivity, at least until you find the tools you need.

Blog Prompts

  • Which start page did you choose?
  • Why did that one appeal to you?
  • Did you find a tool that has some uses for you at the library or at home?
  • How can the online calendars be useful to you?
  • What about the to-do lists—helpful, too much work…?
  • Did you try any of the other tools in the list?
  • Any good ones we should all try?

Challenge (optional)
1. Have a big project that you need to complete? Online productivity tools can help with complicated tasks involving multiple people, deadlines, and activities. Compare and contrast these project management services.
Let us know what you think.

Project Management Services
Zoho Projects

2. Explore more tools from any of the lists above. Share any you find especially useful.


Priyanka said...

I wonder whether you have tried DeskAway as an online tool!
It has many features with a free plan that does not expire!

Arturas said...

Another powerful all in one project management tool to take look at would be, now supporting Gantt charts

sashika said... is another tool that perfectly fits the "online productivity tool" definition. It's a collaborative online outliner, perfect for brainstorming, creating task lists for groups, etc.

Laurel said...

You should also check out It's a great way to share business information and files with coworkers, clients and partners.

It has shared calendars, task lists, team discussions. You can even embed video.

don said...

Thanks for the useful post. I love RTM for personal productivity. For team productivity we use Wrike.